How Christians Should Speak to Kids and Culture on the Gender Issue

Given the media’s choice to largely ignore the story, you may have missed the details about a recent court case in Dallas centered on the custody of a seven-year-old boy. The mother of the boy said that he should be identified as a girl, claiming he made that decision himself at the age of three because he liked Disney princesses and so-called “girl toys.” She saught sole custody to “transition” the boy against the father’s wishes, and administer hormone treatments as the child neared puberty. She also wanted a court order to forbid the father from calling his son “son,” speaking his name, or referring to him as a “he.” The father said that the boy still wanted to be a boy while in his custody (in fact, the mother’s own paid “experts” testified that he “does not identify with only one gender”). He also accused the mother of contributing to his son’s perceived confusion by telling him that “monsters only eat boys.” 

Thankfully, after a jury recommended 11-1 to confirm the mother as sole custodian, the judge has intervened by ruling that joint custody will be maintained. The judge’s ruling will at least temporarily slow down the likelihood of the boy soon beginning harmful hormone therapies which would have suppressed his natural development. It is, however, easy to imagine a different judge deciding the opposite, perhaps in a state without the governor and other top politicians speaking out against it.

Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: cases like this will come up again, and the judges sometimes will decide differently, in ways that will harm children and set dangerous precedents for others. So, if you “identify” as a Christian and as a mature adult, how should you respond?

For starters, if you have kids yourself, be a parent. It is your job to be the adult. Children will be childish, by definition. They think like children (1 Corinthians 13:11). They are not reliably knowledgeable, reasonable, or wise. They lack life experience, a firm grasp of reality, and the ability to make decisions of ultimate importance. In fact, they are legally not allowed to make any major decisions on their own, and any such agreements they try to enter into are not binding. 

You are to teach them and guide them through this early stage of life. You will often, quite literally, save them from themselves. If a kid wants to put on a cape and jump off the roof because they say they are a superhero, you don’t affirm them in that decision no matter how passionately they believe they can fly. You can try to reason with them by explaining the facts of what the consequences might be. But if they don’t listen to reason (and they often won’t), you don’t just throw up your hands and let them experience those consequences. You protect them because you love them. You are the parent and parents are there to protect, not enable.

The progressive “experts” of the day say the loving thing to do is to embrace a child’s self-proclaimed “gender identity” (a new term), and give them drugs to block puberty (and likely make them permanently infertile) so they can later more easily “transition” by surgically removing healthy organs. Considering that 80 to 95 percent of kids with gender dysphoria end up identifying by their true birth/genetic gender after puberty, helping kids prevent puberty in order to change genders seems like an especially twisted form of lifelong abuse. 

In addition to being a parent to those in your own family, you need to speak up for what is universally right for all members of the human family, and especially those who have no powerful voice of their own (Proverbs 31:8-9). A key strategy of those who seek to redefine truth or promote progressive postmodern ideologies is to try to bully those who disagree with them into silence. That’s why we have a “cancel culture,” the advancement of the idea that “words are violence,” and countless other efforts to curtail free speech and civil discourse both online and off. A loud and vocal few can sound like a majority when the majority is too afraid to speak up. The resulting “spiral of silence” leaves multitudes afraid to acknowledge the “emperor has no clothes” even in the face of his obvious nakedness. 

Speak up now, lest we are soon in a world where courts do say that it’s illegal to call your son a “son,” and judges decide for you how to raise your kids. By speaking with conviction now, you can at least take comfort in knowing it wasn’t your silence that made the abuse possible. 

Finally, above all, you should love people in word and deed. Every single one of us has areas where our natural tendency is to stray from God’s design for our lives. All of us have “gone astray”; each of us has areas where we have “turned to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6). None of us is without need of admonishment, encouragement, and help. When we meet someone who is struggling, we meet ourselves, and we should lovingly point them towards the same truth we want them to use for our encouragement. That especially includes the Truth that making choices which go against God’s desires will not bring ultimate joy, peace or fullness of life. 

To speak is to love. Love without truth is not loving, and truth spoken without love will not be heard.

The greatest Truth we must continually share is that even when we do make foolish or rebellious choices, God still loves us. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He made provision for our sin, so that we don’t have to remain a slave to its consequences in this life or the life to come. His love waits for all who seek it. Let’s make sure we daily speak of God’s love and model its effects, so that we may make it known to every human who has lost their God-given identity as a son or daughter made in His image. 

Todd Wagner is the senior pastor at Watermark Community Church. He is the author of the book Come and See and has a weekly podcast, Real Truth Real Quick, on life, leadership and the world we live in.